I had decided to dedicate the inner 9 circuits in the Labyrinth to the planets in our solar system when I was finishing the 10th circuit. Pluto, the ninth planet has since been downgraded to a large 'Plutoid' by definition. I was fascinated by the descriptions I read of the God of the Underworld and wanted to venture there as I built it. It is a circuit where we can honor our ancestors and departed loved ones.
The 8th planet from the sun is Neptune, named for the Roman God of the Sea. It is the 4th largest planet in the solar system. 57 Earths would fit inside its mass.
An image of the planet Neptune from NASA Voyager
Neptune is the Roman incarnation of the Greek God Poseidon. He rules over both fresh waters and the sea. His brothers are Jupiter and Pluto. His consort, Salacia, the Goddess of the sea who bore three children, including the half man, half fish, Triton. Neptune is traditionally depicted holding a Trident and is frequently associated with horses, as he assisted the Goddess Athena in building the chariot. Because of this I am dedicating this circuit to the Sea, and all waters, with the intention of caring for them and helping to make them cleaner and healthier.
The Neptune Fountain in Piazza Navona, Rome
October 25: I set up forms to start the 8th circuit, making a loop from the 9th to the left of the entry path. This path will loop into the 7th circuit at the southern cardinal point. I use a dense flexible plastic lawn edging material to make the forms for loops.
Mortar fills the forms in the loop from the 9th to the 8th circuit
Instead of making flowers in this circuit I decided to make Starfish or Sea Stars. Starfish are Echinoderms, which is the same phylum as Sea Urchins, Sea Cucumbers, and Sand Dollars. Known fossil records of Starfish date back as far as 450 million years, making them one of the longest reigning living organisms to still inhabit the planet. This indicates the incredible ability for Starfish to survive every type of planetary change up until now. We could only hope as a species that we may last a tiny fraction of that. Different species live in the intertidal shoreline zone down to depths of 20,000 feet beneath the sea. Most Starfish have 5 legs, but Puget Sound is also home to the Sunflower Sea Star, the largest species in the World. Capable of growing over 3 feet across here, they do not come in to shallow waters because their bodies wont tolerate exposure to air, so you wont see them in tide pools. If you'll pardon the corny music, this video has some interesting footage, especially of the scallops and the clam at the end.
Sadly when I did some research on Puget Sound starfish I found out that populations are dying off at an alarming rate only recently. You can read about this at http://www.eeb.ucsc.edu/pacificrockyintertidal/data-products/sea-star-wasting/index.html
Starfish come in a wide range of colors befitting of those in the Medicine Wheel in the Labyrinth.
I'm going to stick with the 5 legged variety as it would be very difficult to make a 24 legged one.
A simple 5 legged sea star in the transition area between green and pink stones
Terry and Terri came by again in the afternoon from Kingston to shoot some more video and share stories. Its really nice to spend time with them. We talked about the many types of stones I've found, and tips on traveling in Greece, and the wonders of Nature. I made them each a Sea Star after they left.
Terri and Terry in forest colors
I worked my way towards the south and then headed for Rockaway beach at low tide to collect four buckets of stones before it got dark. I need more green and pink stones to make my way to the southern cardinal point.
Surf Scoters have been gathering along Rockaway Beach
The sun was out in the morning when I went to the site. It was surprisingly quiet for a nice Saturday as I mixed mortar and set stone. My cousin Libby and her husband Bob and their son who live on the island came by to see how the project was progressing. I was low on mortar and the next pallet wont arrive until Monday so I drove to Winslow in the afternoon and bought 10-80 pound bags to cover me until then. I got a flat tire after I loaded it. Once that was fixed I was driving back to the site, but stopped to photograph a wonderful stone fireplace that stands along the edge of Eagle Harbor. The house it once warmed is long gone, replaced by a mossy lawn. Somebody had artfully placed a punch and fold paper model of Saint Basil's Cathedral in Moscow inside the hearth. It was a wonderful piece of whimsy on a beautiful fall afternoon.
A fireplace is all that remains of an old house on Eagle Harbor
I then returned to the site to set more stone up to the end of the forms, which I will move tomorrow.
A group of four women came by. They got excited by the idea that I would make them Starfish and wanted to know how many they would get. I was only able to make 3 with what was available in the pink area I was working in.
Four friends visiting the site
An hour before dark I drove to South Beach, which I haven't visited before. It is a beautiful area over a hill reached by the humorously named Toe Jam Road. I was able to gather four buckets of mostly red stone before there wasn't enough light to see anymore.
There is beautiful brown striped bedrock here with a colorful array of beach rock strewn across it. There is a lot of tumbled man made debris mixed in, red bricks and brown tiles.
Veined Bedrock and Beach Rock
People with homes across the road have teetering ledges with row boats and deck chairs and bleached wood stair cases to access the shore. They are often nicely arranged and decorated with washed up artifacts and brightly painted skiffs.
A blue and red rowboat on South Beach
Sunday was a busy day at Halls Hill Park. It was drizzling when I got up but by the time I got to the site the sun was trying to come out and it turned in to a beautiful fall day. Lots of people came by to see the progress and I found myself being something of a tour guide explaining what has been going on over and over. I had some repeat visitors who came to visit their stone flowers.
Cindy and Pat
I made three starfish for John and Bonnie and their daughter Annie. John told me they came to the park rather than going to church, as he thought it was the nicest church on the island.
Bonnie, Annie, and John in front of where I am making their Starfish
Katherine and her Starfish
I met Katherine today, who had that look on her face that people often get when contemplating this project. The idea for me is that it becomes a vehicle for expanding the mind, becoming more conscious, and practicing compassion for the Earth as a whole, and not just humanity. The Labyrinth is a record of these moments, points of realization experienced on a planet orbiting around the sun in great ovals, which when looked at from a certain angle become circles. I was happy to make her the sweetest little starfish.
Later a man named Rick came to visit and told me that the boulder that is on the western side of the Labyrinth was placed there as a memorial to his Mother, Joy when the original labyrinth was installed in a meadow like lawn. The Stewartia tree, in full fall color behind the boulder was planted in her honor as well. I had no idea of this previously when I incorporated the boulder in to the cardinal points of the new design. I told him that I had dedicated the Ducks Fly Moon that is directly in front of the boulder to my Mom when I built it in honor of her 80th birthday. It feels serendipitous to have the two gifts to our Mothers unintentionally placed next to each other. Perhaps this stone would be a fitting place for others to honor their Mothers and Grandmothers by placing offerings or flowers. I would like to see the labyrinth used for a variety of rituals. I've conjured visions of groups chanting while sitting on the 8 stones at auspicious times of the year. A Circle Dance would be lovely on the Spring Equinox, or even a May Pole on Beltaine or May Day. I'd like to maybe do some kind of Summer Solstice event here next year.
Rick sitting on a boulder dedicated to his Mother Joy
Len, who does mowing and blowing in the park came by and we talked about not blowing the labyrinth area anymore, at least not when I am on the site. While it is a nice easy way to keep the site clean, the noise and exhaust from the blower and the removal of the beautiful leaves that have been falling on the site seems inappropriate to the energy that is evolving here. He was fine with that. If it gets buried I'll ask him to come and take care of it. As the winds picked up it appeared to be snowing Douglas fir needles, golden brown and fine textured. They mix in with the mortar without being a problem, and fill the spaces between the stones in a beautiful way that conceals the uncleaned mortar joints. I have a fantasy idea that people would come and sweep the labyrinth as a ritual or hand pick the leaves to care for it in a loving and gentle way that doesn't pollute the air with exhaust and noise.
Noah and the family dog
I made a lot of progress today and talked several people in to going out to search for stones to use in the Community circuit that I will build next year. I wrote about this in the second installment, about the Mala circuit. I'm looking for block like stones with a flat top and perpendicular sides that would fit well together, in any size and color. Ideally people will bring beautiful stones that speak to them rather than just whatever they find. It is an opportunity to look at stones in a more observant way, studying the shapes and colors and differences between the great variety that can be found on the area beaches. They do not have to be from the region but do need to be flat on top with 90 degree or more sides and be deep enough to stay put when I set them in mortar, about 2 inches thick or more.
I'll probably leave a container out and a sign explaining what I am looking for over the winter while I'm gone. There is a large flat topped boulder to the left of the Labyrinth entrance that people can leave stones on until then.
I completed about 12 feet of mosaic today, working through the red and purple areas, which requires a lot of diligence to find enough stones in those colors in order to make my way from the south to the western cardinal points. Tomorrow I should be able to pass the half way point in the 8th circuit. There will be two loops into the 7th circuit at the West and Northern axis.
The sun is back out today, but I had insomnia so I am exhausted and hope I don't collapse on the site while I'm working with less than an hours sleep. I moved the forms and set the stones on either side of the Western cardinal points. It was a quiet day in the park. One man came by who lives on Rockaway Beach. I'm sorry I didn't take his picture because there was something special about the encounter. I told him I would make a Starfish for him if he rang the prayer wheel, which he did. I could see him through the trees as he was leaving and we waved at each other in recognition of his deed.
It was windy and cool when a group of women came by who had gathered together for the weekend. They brought me some rocks they had collected on the beach and we went through the tote bags to pick the ones that I could use in the mosaic. A lot of them were of the right shape and depth, and brown, which is the area I was working in at the time, so I was able to incorporate some of them right away.
Labyrinth Stone Gatherers
I used up all of the mortar that I had bought and the next pallet I ordered hadn't been delivered as I had hoped. That was fine because I had an appointment to get a much needed massage later in the afternoon. It was marvelous and helped relieve some of the chronic pain that was developing in my right shoulder. Its important to consider regular massage if you ever decide to undertake this kind of work so as to not permanently damage your body. Since I was near Winslow I decided to drive over to Manitou Beach, which I had heard has a rocky shoreline. The view of Seattle from here is beautiful with the Space Needle centered on the horizon. The light was so dim that I was feeling the surfaces of the stones to determine if they were the right shape. I have no idea what colors they are, but I gathered more than 200 pounds before it was too dark to see anything.
I don't have a television at home but there is one where I am staying and I finally turned it on for the first time. I ended up watching Public Broadcasting and saw an interesting story about how local municipalities are working on bio-swale technology to filter storm water from urban areas that otherwise can add significant pollution to Puget Sound. A underwater photographer came across an Seattle storm drain outflow pipe billowing a continuous column of black water, which when sampled and tested, killed fish fry (baby fish). When they filtered that water through a swale, enough toxins were removed from the water by sediments and plants that the fish fry lived. Disconnecting our downspouts and increasing the permeability of the pavements around our homes is one of the best ways to reduce our impact on water quality. Fix oil leaks on vehicles and don't use pesticides or herbicides or chemical fertilizers, and make sure that excess nutrients in gardens doesn't wash in to surface water. And don't pour toxic substances down storm drains. I once saw a maintenance person casting granular fertilizer on a landscaped slope along the Willamette River who was so careless that he was throwing fertilizer in the water. Maintenance crews and many gardeners could benefit from learning to be better stewards of the land in regards to the impacts they have.
I pick up garbage whenever I am at the beach, and even when I walk to my local store. I'm always recycling discarded plastic bottles tossed in the gutter, and have picked up literally thousands of cigarette butts to keep them from being washed out to sea. An Australian environmental organization once made the general estimate that some 4 trillion cigarette butts end up in our oceans every year.
Cigarette butts on a flooded sidewalk
Picking up and properly disposing of garbage you come across as you travel through the world makes for a better planet, instantly. I've never gotten sick from touching garbage with my bare hands. Carry a bag and a gloves to make it easier and more sanitary to pick up litter when you come across it. A line from a favorite children's book is 'This is what would happen if everybody did", with more positive consequences. Teach your children to be conscientious about litter. We had Hooty the Owl when I was a kid and the program taught me to care about the planet. "Give a hoot, don't pollute."
Conserve energy, and it doesn't need to be produced. The power plant doesn't need to generate electricity for a light that has been turned off. Leaving the door of the refrigerator open while you do other tasks in the kitchen uses a lot of electricity to cool it down again. This is the most energy consumptive appliance in most homes. Electricity is often produced by coal fired power plants that add an enormous amount of carbon to the atmosphere, and causes acid rain. Increasing acidity in our oceans is one of the biggest threats to sea life. The mining and transport of coal is also environmentally devastating. Nuclear power obviously has its issues, and hydroelectric power, one of the main sources of electricity in the Pacific Northwest is responsible for the devastation of what was once the largest salmon run in the world up the Columbia River. Some dams are being removed in the Pacific Northwest to restore dwindling salmon runs.
Take reusable grocery bags to the store. Every time you avoid getting another plastic bag is one less bag that might end up in the ocean. Grow and buy local organic food. Recycle. Use biodegradable soaps and cleaning products. Most importantly, how can we cut back on our driving? Be proactive and you will have made a change, rather than just talking about making them. The Sea is suffering because we aren't taking enough care in our personal lives.
If you live on the shoreline, make sure that your landscaping is suitable for maintaining good water quality. Many homes have a large lawn running right up to the sea walls. I can only imagine that fertilizing these lawns leaches directly in to the sea water only a couple of yards below. During really high tides the sea water can actually wash over the tops of the walls. Appropriate landscaping, which can actually enhance the coastal environment is an environmentally healthier option.
Various types of landscapes front Rockaway Beach homes
In the foreground of this photo is a home with a more naturalistic landscape that allows higher tides to break on the rocks. Driftwood logs help to anchor the patio. Further down are more traditional landscapes with bulkhead walls that waves crash in to at high tide, with lawns and gardens that probably require fertilizers and irrigation to maintain them, which can pollute the waters of the Sound. All of the concrete bulkhead walls have drain pipes in them so that runoff from roofs and driveways and landscaping drains directly on to the beach.
There is an election coming up in November and on Bainbridge Island there is a candidate who is running who vehemently opposes the Shoreline Master Program because it requires limits on development and land use. The shores of the island are heavily developed with residential homes as the water views are highly desirable. The impact of building on the shoreline is great as there usually needs to be substantial amounts of fill, with bulkhead walls constructed frequently directly over the shore line itself. There is very little land left to be developed at this point, usually parcels that are more difficult to modify for building that will have greater impact. The shoreline plan is required by state mandates. Voting for a commissioner who opposes the plan usually means that this person is very much pro development without regard for the environment. Dick Haughan is that candidate from the research I have done on the internet. He is strongly opposed to the restrictions on the plan restricting the building of more private docks, land filling, and intrusive architecture. I don't live here, but his opponent Val Tollefson has stated that he would work to make the plan functional. It is clear in reading the plans guidelines that it is intended to protect the health and visual quality of the island's shorelines. An article on this issue can be seen at http://www.bainbridgereview.com/news/222876561.html
The seafood you buy also affects the health of our oceans. There seems to be a sushi restaurant on every corner these days. This has increased tuna consumption to the highest levels in history. Giant trawlers have made it possible to harvest greater numbers of fish to meet the demand with terrible consequences. Many are outfitted with satellite monitors that can locate remaining schools of fish. Tuna may very well become extinct in our lifetime. Billions of other fish are killed in the process every year, only to be discarded. Dolphins and whales are also a casualty of indiscriminate trawling. Our oceans are being stripped bare. Large fish now contain high levels of toxins such as mercury and should be eaten sparingly anyway, if at all. Consider buying smaller more sustainably harvested fish.
Shrimp is a good example of a seafood that can have devastating ecological impact in the methods it is farmed. Mangrove wetlands in many tropical countries have been destroyed by the development of shrimp farms. This photo, from the World Wildlife Fund is of a new shrimp farm on Mafia Island in the Indian Ocean, a part of the country of Tanzania's fabled Zanzibar region. When I looked it up I found that the island is touted as the finest diving in East Africa. The landscape surrounding the farm looks like it is pristine wilderness. The inexpensive frozen shrimp you buy at the store may very well come from a facility like this if it is imported. Read the packaging or ask the person in the fish shop where the seafood is sourced.
A Shrimp farm on Mafia Island in the Indian Ocean obliterates the natural landscape
Why is it important to preserve our oceans? Read this and you will understand. http://www.theherald.com.au/story/1848433/the-ocean-is-broken
A photo of Sharks Fins being prepared for the Taiwanese Market to be made in to soup
Now that I have totally bummed you out, consider it an honor to be a Steward of the Oceans. It truly matters.
Back at the site I reset the forms for today's work. The pallet of mortar I ordered still had not been delivered so Gregory drove to town and brought me 6 bags of mortar to keep me busy until it
arrived. A beautiful young buck deer walked around the labyrinth barely perturbed by our presence. The weather was so nice I had to take advantage of making as much progress as possible. I worked my way from orange in to black and then in to white in the north. It was a pretty quiet day with not many visitors until late in the afternoon.
A woman named Lynn came over to see what I was doing. She came to ring the Prayer Wheel because she said she had been in a bad mood. I told her I didn't hear it. She said thats because somebody was using a leaf blower nearby. They are so loud that they can totally destroy the peace of the park. If I was king I would ban them. I love the old fashioned rake and broom. Lynn loves stones and said that her bad mood had gone away being here. I made her a sweet little white starfish and she promised me she would bring me some stones for the Community circuit.
Lynn visits the Labyrinth
A couple who are renting a cottage on Rockaway Beach came by on their bicycles. I was telling them about the labyrinth and the Neptune circuit and its relationship to the sea, and that I was writing about ocean conservation in this essay. The told me that they worked as ocean conservationists and that they had seen a pod of Orca Whales from their place on the beach today. There is a website called Orca Network where you can track the movement of area Orca pods. While looking at the website at http://www.orcanetwork.org I came upon another article about Orcas in Puget Sound. This essay stated that Orcas have the highest concentration of toxic chemicals, including PCB's, of any mammal on Earth. This, and changes in the availability of their food sources has led to population declines that could place Puget Sound's Orcas on the Endangered Species List. This is the consequence of being the top predator in the ocean's food chain. This interesting article appeared in a recent issue of the Seattle Times: http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2022162797_apxpugetsoundorcas.html
Another woman I had met before came by next bearing gifts. She brought me a bag of assorted colors of beach glass she had collected from a place called Glass Beach near Port Townsend. The glass came from an old dump located on the shore. I placed several pieces of clear white glass in the area I had just finished at the loop on one side of the northern cardinal point of the labyrinth.
A gift of beach glass
She also brought me the most beautiful cookie I have ever seen. She and a friend stayed up all night baking and decorating cookies for Day of the Dead. This is a Mexican holiday honoring those who have passed, celebrated from Halloween until November 2nd. I photographed the cookie on the orange Halloween like stones of the 9th circuit.
A wonderful Dia de los Muertos cookie gifted to me
I had another hour of daylight so I drove to the boat ramp where I can reach the center of Rockaway Beach and collected 5 buckets of rock before it got too dark to see. A flock of Surf Scoters, Melanitta perspicllata were swimming along the shore line. Mount Rainier was colored pink by the sunset filtered through a heavy layer of Seattle's air pollution.
Surf Scoters, with Mt. Rainier in the background
A large dead Fried Egg Jellyfish was turning purple like a big blob of goo on the rocks.
A dead Fried Egg Jellyfish on Rockaway Beach
I went back to the beach in the morning and collected several buckets of stones. I saw four other dead jellyfish on the beach. I don't know if this is normal or the cause of water pollution. I focused on silver and blue green stones to finish the 8th circuit. Then I moved and reset the forms so I could work my way to the end of the 8th circuit. I made the second loop at the north cardinal point with the rest of the white granite stones I had collected on Mt. Rainier, and worked until dark trying to get the rest of the circuit done so I can go home for a few days tomorrow, but I didn't quite make it all the way to the end before it got dark. If it isn't raining in the morning I'll finish it up.
The second loop from the 9th to the 8th circuit at the Northern cardinal point
Two young bucks came by twice today. They are eating all of the white mushrooms that have been growing in the fresh bark that was spread around the plantings when I first started working here.
A pair of deer visiting the site
October 31st: Happy Halloween! This is the time of year when the veils between dimensions becomes particularly thin. Its an excellent time to honor dead loved ones, and to actualize fantasies of identity. I've always thought it strange that people always ask when I dress up for Halloween, "what are you supposed to be, a Genie?" So I am driving home and hopefully will have the energy to dress up in something fabulous and go to a big dance party tonight.
I didn't sleep well at all. Maybe those thin veils between worlds had something to do with it. So I had to drag myself down to the site in the morning. First I picked a bucket of dahlia flowers from the farm across the road, to use to decorate the cloud mosaic and center of the labyrinth. Then I went and mixed two bags of mortar to finish the 8th circuit and began setting the stones there. Jorunn, the woman who does gardening in the park came down and said that Ketil's stepson and his wife and their son were coming to see the labyrinth. They had just returned from Norway where they had attended Ketil's funeral. I had made clouds in the northerly direction and having finished the second loop there yesterday, the clouds were complete. I had planned to arrange the flowers around the clouds to honor the recent passing of my friend Lord and had dedicated the Clouds of Heaven to him, and Ketil, a Norwegian man who I never met. You can read about that in the essay before this one, "Pluto and the Four Elements".
So I finished my work and made starfish for Ketil's stepson and his wife while she and Jorunn arranged the flowers around the loops in the mosaic. I had planned on just using white there and placing the colored flowers around the center of the labyrinth but they told me that Ketil had always worn bright colors and loved purple, and that people who attended his memorial service in Norway were asked to wear bright colors in remembrance of him. So they mixed the colors together and shed some tears, and told me sweet stories. It was such a lovely closure to this phase of my work here, and totally unplanned. More serendipity.
When I return I plan to build the 7th circuit, dedicated to Uranus, the Greek God of the Sky.
The 9th circuit, dedicated to the God Neptune and all Waters and the Seas
River God of the Tiber at the Capitolino in Rome
Time for the most dangerous part of this job, the four hour drive home.
October 17: This is the third installment in a series on the making of the Halls Hill Labyrinth. If you haven't read the first two I recommend scrolling down past this one to see those.
I'm getting ready to leave for Bainbridge Island again, and have been studying the amazing Neolithic monument at Newgrange in Ireland that was brought to my attention this morning by my friend Nancy Heckler, who lives in Indianola across the water from the island.
This Neolithic tomb has the most extraordinary carved stone at its entrance, which was oriented to the rising sun so that it would penetrate the mound's interior on the Winter Solstice. The building of this ceremonial space was a significant undertaking predating the Pyramids in Egypt by 500 years. It is older than the Mycenaean culture Knossos on the island of Crete, which I will be visiting this winter, and the existing form of the more famous monument at Stonehenge. Its worth reading the online encyclopedia story on this monument at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newgrange
The restored entrance to the Newgrange Monument in Ireland photo by Michael Weck
The spiraling designs on the stone at the entrance reminds me of a wonderful water channel carved in to a terrace in the ruins at Mandu in Madhya Pradesh in India that I visited many years ago.
Spiral water channel at Mandu, Madhya Pradesh, India
I came home again for a few days to rest (didn't happen) and celebrate my 55th birthday with friends. We traded another incredible massage where I was able to indulge in asking, if they started grinding on a particularly sore spot to do that 20 times. The dull headache I had for 5 days from stiffness in my neck went away.
The morning of my birthday a very dear friend named Lord Huckleberry passed away. He was an icon of hard living and truth and was loved by a great many people. He lived in San Francisco and was the figurehead of the legendary Burning Man Camp Dustfish, which is the family we have been adopted by and camping with for many years now at that festival. He loved to garden and had a beautiful sanctuary in the city. His passing made for a very pensive and bittersweet day washed with copious amounts of tears. I took a bath in the garden and drank champagne, toasted his life, had a couple of extravagant gourmet meals with good friends, and spent hours looking at pictures and reminiscing.
Today I decided to head back to Bainbridge Island via Tahoma, or Mt. Rainier, where there used to be a bridge crossing the Nisqually River as it flows out of the National Park, filled with white granite stones that I will use to make the clouds in the north of the 9th circuit. These will be the clouds of Heaven built with my friend Lord in mind. It was a beautiful day minus the brutal clear cuts on the way up through the logging town of Morton. I passed a terrible auto accident and several speeding paramedic units. Then a bird hit my windshield. I was feeling a kind of menace and uncertainty on this journey, and considered turning back.
I hadn't been to the park in 8 years. The Nisqually River had changed due to a massive flood in 2006, washing away the Sunshine Campground and the bridge downstream where I used to collect rock. This made my search much more laborious as the banks of the river outside the park have been rip rapped with heavy basalt boulders to protect houses. Gathering and carrying the buckets up bouldered slopes after a weekend of partying did not go over well with my body. I filled 8 five gallon buckets of white speckled granite and then drove up to Paradise, which is at timberline on the mountain. It is one of the great drives of the Pacific Northwest, climbing through thick forests to revealed views of the majestic mountain. The jagged Tatoosh Range demonstrates the carving of once massive glaciers, now receded to a mere fragment of what was there even 50 years ago.
The Nisqually River below the rapidly disappearing Nisqually Glacier on Mt. Rainier
When I got to the top there was a good 6 inches of snow on the ground. Lord's hair was as white as snow and it was as if he were the mountain itself, gleaming in the lowering autumn sun. A nearly full moon rose over the ridge. I was so glad I had made the journey.
Mt. Rainier from Paradise
I didn't arrive at Bainbridge Island until almost 10:00 PM. I stopped and unloaded the buckets of stone and walked down to the labyrinth, which was bathed in moonlight and the shadows of trees. I'll have to prepare some kind of simple ceremony for the Duck's Fly Moon, the Mary Lou Moon that I dedicated to my Mother. It is also called the 'Hunter's Moon', and will undergo a prenumbral or partial eclipse tomorrow night, although it will probably not be noticeable from the Western United States. There is a telescope in the house where I am staying so I'll have to take a look as it rises over Seattle across the water.
I dragged myself back to work, setting up the forms for completing the first quarter of the ninth circuit. I moved the granite from Mt. Rainier down the hill and piled them in in the northern part of the labyrinth, and cut and shaped rebar so I could start setting stone.
I then gathered big leaf maple leaves that had fallen on the site and arranged them around the Ducks Fly Moon in honor of tonight's full moon. I also acid washed most of the 10th circuit with a mixture of Muriatic acid and water which I just poured on to remove the mortar film that obscures the colors of the stones.
The Ducks Fly Moon on the day of the full moon
Then I mixed up two batches of mortar and continued where I left off when I left for a break, with Peter's flower in the River Styx. One of my oldest and dearest friends Cheryl arrived at the site on her day off to spend the afternoon visiting while I worked. We studied Landscape Architecture at the University of Oregon together. We had deep philosophical discussions about relationships and life's journey while catching up as I worked my way from a watery green mosaic in to the more fiery pinks and reds of the southerly cardinal point.
Cheryl and I studied Landscape Architecture together at the University of Oregon over 3 decades ago
A really nice couple named Jean and Dave came by for a pleasant visit and to watch me work. Jean had a little dog in a shoulder bag, who's name just happened to be 'Little Dog'. I made them a nice, simple flower when they went to ring the prayer wheel.
Jean and Dave and Little Dog
My friend Nancy Heckler from Indianola came with her dear friend Cristie to visit as we were finishing lunch on a granite boulder in the sun filtering through the trees. I gave them a tour and explanation of what was evolving and then we walked to the prayer wheel. It was a wonderful visit on this beautiful day that filled us all with happiness.
Christie and Nancy
I made each of them a wild rose near the turn in the path by the Strong Sun Moon which I finished as the evening faded in to darkness. I cranked this part out but was so happy having accomplished my goal for the day. Tomorrow I can reset the forms and begin the next quarter of the 9th circuit. I used up most of the pink stones that represent this section of the color wheel so I will need to go to the beach and make a determined effort to find enough to move in to the red section of the Ripe Berries Moon.
3 rather funky 5 petaled wild roses hiding amongst a jumble of pink stones
The full moon was rising magnificently over the Sound with Seattle sparkling across the gloss black water. Cheryl and I drove in to Winslow for dinner and then she caught the ferry back to Seattle. Then I drove back to Blakely Harbor where I am staying, stopping at the site to see it in moonlight. It was beautiful seeing the rays of the full moon passing through the silhouetted Madrones. I knelt down by the Ducks Fly Moon and said a prayer for my Mother. The stones were hard and cold against my knees. Just then I heard a flock of Canadian geese flying over the water, right on cue.
The Full Moon over Seattle
October 19: I went to the beach during low tide and collected 9 heaping buckets of stones, focusing on pink ones to finish the southern end of the 9th circuit. Some interesting people came by, a couple from Cape Cod, another from Corpus Christy Texas, and a few people from the island. I moved the forms and made the second bend in the path at the Strong Sun Moon and mosaiced my way in to the red part of the circuit by the Ripe Berries Moon. It will be interesting to see if the beach can continue to churn up these colors as I make my way around and around with each circuit. It was foggy and grey all day. It gets dark at 6:30 now so I get home and eat dinner earlier.
Two turns in the path from the 10th to the 9th circuit
October 20: There is a marvelous shelf fungus growing nearby on a dead tree trunk that is thoroughly pecked full of holes by woodpeckers. The fungus seems to grow more colorful as the weather gets colder and damper. The rings on it remind me of the colored rings of the labyrinth.
A marvelous shelf fungus growing on a woodpecker tree near the labyrinth
I got up earlier this morning and went down to the site to reset the forms for my work later today. A lovely couple named Shannon and Art came by and told me they usually stay in on Sundays and read the newspaper but today they decided they should come to the park and turn the Prayer Wheel, calling the four directions.
Art and Shannon
My hosts Len and Stella had prepared a beautiful brunch for an amazing group of illustrious people so I left the site to join them. The conversations were rich with experience, and I felt like I should be documenting their stories about island history and architecture.
Stella made a labyrinth frittata!
I got to meet the Tom Jay, the bronze artist who created the prayer wheel. There is a 300 pound bell inside the wheel. His description of its fabrication and meaning brought new appreciation for this magnetic work that has been spinning out blessings and intentions for 6 years now. A strong connection between it and the labyrinth is forming as I add more and more flowers to signify the moments of enlightenment and hope sent outwards with the bell that rings when the wheel has been turned 9 times. There are four panels on the Prayer wheel, as the labyrinth is divided in to four parts. Multiply 4 and 9 and you get the diameter of the labyrinth in feet. There are 9 Mala stones between each moon in bordering circuits. Both speak to nature in an intimate and symbolic way.
Discussing the Prayer Wheel and Labyrinth over brunch
After I told the general history of what I am doing everybody walked to the site and I gave them a tour. John Paul Jones, a native architect from the firm Jones and Jones in Seattle and his wife Marjory discussed medicine wheels and architecture. We visited his firm on a field trip when I was in studying at the University of Oregon over 36 years ago. It was a very special gathering and an honor to spend time with and get to know these people.
This project is so rich in meaning and has such good energy that always seems to resonate and touch people in a deep and profound way. I feel some kind of sincere connection to everyone I talk to while I'm working.
My hosts Len and Stella have been so gracious. Thank you for everything you've done.
After Brunch, we visited the site
This couple live on the island in a historic home with a turf roof. I would love to see it sometime.
This is how I hoped the boulders would be used...beautiful
I wanted to make a flower for each of them to commemorate this gathering but I had to go to the beach to collect more red and violet and purple stones to make them with. These are tough colors to find in reliable shapes. So after 3 hours at low tide I had gathered another 7-800 pounds of rock. The higher tides of the full moon washed ashore a dazzling mix of different colors of seaweed. Small flocks of teals have been foraging from the offshore rocks.
A breathtaking array of seaweeds
I was only able to finish 5 flowers before it got dark and have four more to go. I hope to make great progress tomorrow. As I was wheelbarrowing the stones down the hill two women, Jeanine and Jane came by. One of my jobs is to make people want to be a part of this project. They promised to bring stones for the Community circuit that I will build in the Spring of next year. If you come by and I'm there I'll show you what I'm looking for to build it with. If everyone brought me at least one beautiful stone that is the right shape, flat and block like in any size, I would have a nice selection to build the 3rd circuit with.
The 9th circuit from South to West is finished
I went to the beach once again to pick 4 buckets of whatever was handy, focusing on purple flower petal shapes and brown stones for the western direction. I set stone all afternoon, first finishing the 9 flowers for the people who had come to brunch yesterday. It is a nice little garden. 4 are slightly wonky Medicine Wheels.
The Brunch Flowers
From there I mainly just filled in the spaces with a variety of shapes of stones in purple shades. A woman named Susan appeared from the woods as if by magic. When I looked up she was fairly close, having come from the obscure little path through the bushes people sometimes wind up on. It always surprises me when they arrive this way. Susan was dressed in three of the more prominent colors in the labyrinth, blending beautifully with the surrounding landscape. Yet another lovely encounter. I made her a brown flower to go with her outfit, which she asked me to dedicate to her sister Kelly.
I tried to make something that would look like craggy mountains before the Ducks Fly Moon, and used striped brown stones to insinuate sky, but I don't think it reads at all. Neither did the flames I made in the south. They're there, they just aren't obvious, even to me after making them.
I must say again that for me what makes this mosaic work marvelous is the stones themselves, not so much the way I am putting them together. If I had a table saw I could be trimming the stones and making them fit better, but that would require a generator on the site, making a big noisy mess. There is a quiet peace that comes with working here with the local beach rock. It has some lumpiness and contour, but the array of minerals is stunning
Big leaf Maple leaves on a pile of collected stones
I went back to the beach as it got dark and collected a couple of buckets of stones to use tomorrow. The sea was sort of surreal disappearing in to the horizon. Most of my rock is coming from this stretch of Rockaway beach.
October 22: Today I did the usual morning rituals to get my body warmed up for another day of hard labor. I didn't go to the beach, as I felt I had enough stones to set the areas I am working in to. I was able to make 18 feet of linear mosaic today, working from brown to orange and in to black.
In the west, the color for that direction is brown, and I was trying to depict the element of Earth. For some reason I kept thinking of Torres del Paine National Park in Chile with its magnificent spires of rock, reminding me of the way I was composing the stones in the mosaic. I hiked there several years ago on a long trip through Patagonia.
Torres del Paine
Otherwise it just looks like a bunch of stones set together in an abstract mosaic. I made my way in to the orange area of the Freeze Up Moon. Global warming may eventually force a name change for this moon. The weather has been very dry and mild this fall. Its foggy though and I am missing out on an epic Indian Summer down in Portland where they are having warm sunny days...big sigh.
Spires representing the element Earth
From the orange realm, which feels like Halloween, I made my way in to the darkness of black stones. I was pushing hard to make my way over to the north part of the circuit where the stones are white, and I will be making puffy clouds tomorrow.
Orange stones blending in to black
John and his Mother Julie came by late in the afternoon. I have been gathering stones from the beach below their houses at the far end of Rockaway Beach. We had a sweet visit and I explained what it is I am creating, and asked them to bring me some rocks to use in the community circuit.
John and his Mother Julie
I had a beautiful flat black stone speckled with yellow dots that I found near their place that I was about to set. I made John and his partner and Julie three black flowers after they left to turn the Prayer Wheel.
A pair of Pileated Woodpeckers came while we were visiting and one of them landed on the Woodpecker Tree near the labyrinth and hammered away at the rotting trunk. They are so beautiful. I also saw a Bald Eagle today that landed on a tall tree near the Prayer Wheel today.
Pileated Woodpecker on the Woodpecker Tree
October 23: This is the day I'm making pillowy clouds in honor of my friend Lord Huckleberry, who passed away on my birthday last week. His cremation is happening the day after. The clouds represent the air element, using the white speckled granite stones I gathered from the Nisqually River up by Mt. Rainier.
I removed yesterday's forms and reset them so that I could work my way around the north end of the labyrinth. It was a cool foggy mysterious day. Sometimes fog drifted through the site in a ghostly way while I worked.
Jane, who had visited recently with a friend came back with her grand daughter Pearl. Pearl found me two stones when they went to turn the Prayer Wheel, one of which was the right shape to use in the Community circuit that I will build next year.
I made her a flower with black and white striped stones as I transitioned my way from black to the white area in the north using stones with veins of both colors.
Jorunn, the Norwegian woman who does maintenance in the park on Wednesdays was there and we visited for a while. I told her that I was making clouds for my friend Lord who had passed away and she told me about her friend Ketil who had also recently died from a heart attack. When she was finished working pruning around the trails near the labyrinth she went to turn the Prayer Wheel for both Lord and Ketil. It was a very pensive moment. I dedicated the clouds to both of them, and to all departed spirits, and made a flower for each of them, and to all of the people who loved them.
Lord and Ketil's flowers amongst the clouds
It was a moody day appropriate to working in the winter reaches of the 9th circuit, although sometimes the sun would try to break through and for a while there were Angel ladders streaming in past the trees.
A Marble Angel walking on Clouds in a church in Rome
I went down to the Prayer Wheel twice today. Working on a circuit dedicated to the Underworld, and making heavenly clouds commemorating loved ones departed is a very heavy task. The element I am representing with clouds is Air. I am an Air Sign, and have I think 3 other planets in Libra, so I could be considered a very airy person.
Adding to the heaviness, I have been reading articles and watching videos related to the World's oceans that have been heartbreaking. The 8th circuit will be ruled by the planet Neptune, and will be dedicated to the sea, in which the stones I'm using in the mosaics are tumbled. I am very sensitive to the health of the environment. We have destroyed so much of the natural world in my lifetime that I sometimes have to transcend shock to carry on. I'm grateful that the water here is clear, although there is a superfund site at the point in this picture where they used to creosote wood for railroad ties and telephone poles. I've seen a lot of filthy water in my travels and consider it a treasure when it is clean. Life depends on it.
Houses built right on the beach
I try hard to locate myself in places where I have contact with nurturing surroundings. Librans need their beauty. The site where I am working is one of those. My brain is capable of creating an endless string of preoccupying thoughts not related to the moment I am in, so finding sanctuary helps keep me sane.
The prayer wheel in October
I have a very busy brain, and often don't sleep well because of it. Thats why I hardly ever get to work before 10:00 or 11:00 But then I usually work until dark. I suppose you could call it Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, but I manage to be productive enough to to keep it from being a disorder. Mosaic is a popular art form for people with an unstoppable desire to be create fantasy environments that could probably be linked to certain hormones and chemicals in the brain. Whatever it is, I have it.
Tom Jay's pickup (the man who created the Prayer Wheel) Photo by Len
I find myself staring at the labyrinth and not being able to pull myself away. Every day it grows, like an organism, according to an entropic plan. I feel that the World needs healing, and I feel it is my duty to bring about consciousness in regards to our environment. We must become more harmonious with nature immediately or we will soon be living in one of those depressing post apocolyptic Worlds most commonly depicted in films about the future. We must change the way we live so that we enhance rather than destroy natural systems. Turn off the lights in empty rooms, reuse bags and containers, walk and ride your bike, nurture wildlife in your gardens. Don't buy toxic substances. It all helps.
Back to work I transitioned in to the color silver, around the Rest and Cleansing Moon where I reached the end of the forms I had set up. Tomorrow I will finish the 9th circuit. People are bringing friends and relatives by to see the project now. Its a captivating project, filled with great potential that seems to touch people's hearts.
October 24: Another foggy morning. There was a doe and fawn in the garden outside my door when I left for work. I will always think of the Corn Planting Moon, for which deer are the totem animal whenever I see deer from now on.
A fawn in the garden
A flock of Robins was in the Madrone trees when I arrived, eating the small red fruits that have been festooning the ground around the site. I reset the forms to reach the end of the 9th circuit where it loops to connect to the 10th circuit.
Lucy walks the Labyrinth with her nose
I was setting blue green stones when I heard a squawk and noticed a Great Blue Heron had landed in a Douglas Fir nearby. It was timely to arrive as I was working in its color range. I could hear the heavy equipment nearby again, with that boop hoop boop when a large construction vehicle is backing up. I had asked Gregory what they were doing and he said, "clearing out the grass, wild plants, nature, and ducks that had colonized a drainage swale. Our tax dollars at work removing biodiversity so that the land will hold more runoff from impermeable pavement without offering any benefit to clean water or life. Somebody was using a chain saw down the hill. Men at work. Maybe its all hopeless and the Labyrinth is just a pretty distraction from the demise of our World. I hope otherwise. I decided to put on my Ipod to drown it out. Music does help motivate me to keep working, everything from Strauss waltzes to David Bowie. Back to the search for beauty in the World.
I made a flower for my Mother in blue green stones, her favorite color. Its like making a giant circular puzzle finding and putting all these stones together, trying to find good fits, making pleasing compositions, and keeping it all flat while honoring everything around me.
A flower for Mom
I looked up and my friend and neighbor from Portland, Vanessa Renwick was standing there with her beautiful white dog. She had been watching for a while without me noticing. This is only the second time I have opted for music as I like to hear what is happening in the forest, the sound of birds, the chirp of squirrels, and even the bark of sea lions. Of course it is good to hear the prayer wheel ring as well. We went and turned the Prayer Wheel and sat on the swinging bench taking in the beautiful view.
Vanessa Renwick and Fox, her Mountain Goat Dog
A couple from the island, Susan and Thomas came to see what was going on as I was getting back to work. Thomas was wearing a hoody with a silk screen of the Chartes Cathedral Labyrinth on the back. I had to get a picture, so I had them stand by the central altar and pretend they were dancing. It was so sweet.
Susan and Thomas
I was back in the area of the water element and made some flowing lines of different shades of green, transitioning in to yellow by the entrance in the East. I added the 107th stone to the Mala circuit, the last of those when I did the loop from the 9th to the 10th circuit. I made a simple yellow flower for my friend Suzinn who's Mother who passed away today. It is meant to look sort of like one of her favorite Dahlias.
In the morning I will make the loop from the 9th to the 8th circuit, entering the realm of Neptune and the Realm of Pluto and the Four Elements will be complete.